Can Old Fashioned Oats Be Eaten Without Cooking Them Grease Balls for the Birds: Feeding Birds in Winter

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Grease Balls for the Birds: Feeding Birds in Winter

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll know by now that winter is just a stone’s throw away. This means freezing cold days and nights, ice, frost and in some cases lots of snow. Once winter comes and you are cozy and warm in the house, do you ever consider the animals and birds that live, eat and sleep outside? Well you have to and in particular the wild birds that fly in and around the garden all year round.

Do you feed the birds in winter? If you do, and I know many of you do, do you make your own fat balls? Well, making your own bird food for garden birds is a good idea as you can add whatever seeds including flower seeds you have left over, nuts and other ingredients you like and mix them all together. But what do you use to make the ingredients stick together? Well read on for my tips on making fat balls that will keep the wild birds fed all winter and won’t really cost you that much.

What to feed wild birds

These are just some of the ingredients you can use when making the perfect winter snack for your feathered friends. I use all of these and usually all at once, but the choice is yours, use what you have lying around. Another tip is to store things all year round. Seeds and nuts will keep, as will muesli and oats, provided they are kept in an airtight container and in a dark, cool place. These ingredients alone would guarantee to attract wild birds in winter.

  • Bird seed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dry bread
  • Biscuit
  • Muesli
  • Old cooking oil
  • Oats. A similar alternative is oatmeal
  • Cornflakes

Old cooking oil I hear you say? So yes. If you have a chip pan or deep fryer, when you clean them, save the oil. I have a large 10 liter drum that I pour old oil into and then keep outside near the door. Leave it out there with the lid on until winter, they will use it for the balls. It saves on using fat, margarine or other things to make your fat balls stick, and you recycle at the same time.

Other tools to consider

  • Old mixing bowl
  • Old mixing bowl
  • Rubber or surgical gloves

It’s true, it’s true

Yes, that’s right, the wild birds around where I live are better fed than me in the winter! No wonder there are hundreds all lining up in the morning waiting for their breakfast!

Method

  • Take cornflakes, oats and muesli and crush them into powder or small pieces. As a guide, I try to make the oats look like finished meal.
  • Take the bread and break it into small pieces. If I have a lump of bread, I grate it with a grater.
  • Crush the crackers and then add everything including the seeds to a large mixing bowl. It’s best to use an old one you no longer use, or go to a thrift store and buy a cheap one for that purpose.
  • Mix the ingredients together and slowly add cooking oil until the ingredients come together.

Now comes the sticky part, which is why you need to wear gloves.

  • Take a lump of the mixture and press it into a ball. If it sticks when you open your hand then it’s ok, if it falls apart, keep mixing and add a little more oil. You want it so everything hangs together without being soggy.
  • When you are happy with the consistency, make a ball and put it in the netting and secure it. You can use all sorts to secure the net, including electrical ties, breadcrumbs, or an old coat rack like I use.

Save for a winter day

As for the grid to put the fat balls in, do you store them when they are empty? I will do it again and reuse them. I also save the net that you get fruit and veg in the supermarket just for this purpose, just make sure the holes in the net are not too small or big. To put them on the tree, I use an old hanger, which is bent at both ends. Just pull one end through the mesh and the other end hooks onto a tree branch.

And there you have it. Feeding birds in the winter with homemade fat pellets for all the wild birds will cost you less than you think. Once outside, and the resident wild birds tell their friends that there is food in your garden, you will see a huge surge of birds all scrambling for a tasty morsel. These are excellent and easy bird feeders kids can make, so why not get them involved too? It’s a great way to introduce them to the wildlife around them.

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